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Mediators of Inflammation
Volume 2014, Article ID 195094, 11 pages
Research Article

Decreased Expression of the Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor in Ocular Behcet’s Disease

1The First Affiliated Hospital of Chongqing Medical University, Chongqing Key Lab of Ophthalmology, Chongqing Eye Institute, Youyi Road 1, Chongqing 400016, China
2University Eye Clinic Maastricht, Maastricht, The Netherlands

Received 20 February 2014; Accepted 26 May 2014; Published 22 June 2014

Academic Editor: Valentin Huerva

Copyright © 2014 Chaokui Wang et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Recent studies show that the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) is involved in immune responses. AhR is activated following interaction with its ligands, such as 6-formylindolo[3,2-b]carbazole (FICZ) and 2-(1′H-indole-3′-carbonyl)-thiazole-4-carboxylic acid methyl ester (ITE). In this study, we investigated the role of AhR activation by its endogenous ligands in the pathogenesis of ocular Behcet’s disease (BD). The expression of AhR was significantly decreased in active BD patients as compared to inactive BD patients and normal controls. Both FICZ and ITE inhibited Th1 and Th17 polarization and induced the expression of IL-22 by PBMCs and by CD4+T cells in active BD patients and normal controls. Stimulation of purified CD4+T cells with FICZ or ITE caused a decreased expression of RORC, IL-17, IL-23R, and CCR6 and an increased phosphorylation of STAT3 and STAT5. The present study suggests that a decreased AhR expression is associated with disease activity in BD patients. The activation of AhR by either FICZ or ITE was able to inhibit Th1 and Th17 cell polarization. Further studies are needed to investigate whether modulation of AhR might be used in the treatment of BD.